Kent

G4S Medway unit violence condemned in Ofsted report

The Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester Image copyright PA
Image caption The Medway Secure Training Centre takes people from 12 to 17 years old on remand and on conviction

A young offenders' unit at the centre of allegations of bullying by staff has been condemned in an official report for its growing levels of violence.

Ofsted's findings highlight violence among young people and towards staff at the Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent, formerly run by G4S.

It rated the centre inadequate in five of the eight categories inspected.

Police investigating allegations of assault made in a BBC Panorama programme have made 12 arrests so far.

The inspection was carried out in June, shortly before the management of the centre was transferred to the Ministry of Justice's National Offender Management Service (Noms).

The report revealed two-thirds of the staff had left in the past year - some as a result of the criminal investigation - leaving an inexperienced team to run it.

Violence against staff

Lead inspector Sheena Doyle, who carried out the unannounced visit, said stability at the centre had been "sorely undermined" by uncertainty over its future and the consequences of the Panorama broadcast, including the police investigation.

Image caption Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said the government had taken decisive action over the 'shocking' findings

She found behaviour management had deteriorated significantly since a previous inspection. "Levels of violence are high, particularly against staff and oversight of the use of force and restraint is poor," she reported.

G4S, the specialist security group whose contract to run children's services at Medway was not renewed, said it would apply the lessons learned from what it called a "deeply disappointing" report to its remaining secure training centre near Milton Keynes.

Jerry Petherick, managing director of G4S custodial and detention services, said in a statement: "This was clearly a period of intense disruption which created uncertainty and instability for the young people and staff at the centre and it proved extremely challenging to maintain appropriate staffing levels and standards."

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss, whose department took over Medway, said: "The findings of this report are shocking and decisive action has already been taken.

Safety 'inadequate'

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Media captionG4S has been defending its management of Medway young offenders centre

"G4S have been removed from the running of Medway. Since 1 July the centre has been under new leadership. The safety and rehabilitation of young offenders is extremely important."

Ofsted is demanding immediate improvements to child protection and safeguarding at Medway, including ensuring adequate staffing levels and keeping proper records of staff interaction with young offenders.

It has also issued a list of longer-term actions after declaring Medway inadequate in terms of: care and safety, the promotion of positive behaviour, the effectiveness of managers and its overall effectiveness.

It says a number of staff have been arrested and five dismissed. Ten are currently suspended and four others placed on non-operational duties pending the outcome of investigations.

Kent Police says of the 12 people arrested in connection with their investigation, one has been charged, nine are currently on bail and two have been released without charge.

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